Karen Peetz, chairwoman of the Penn State Board of Trustees has given me an inspiration for a new column name: Laser Focus, a scientifically meaningless phrase she coined. Must be some corporate doublespeak they bandy about at BNY Mellon or something. Anyhow, Sudden Impact is not going away, but I am temporarily obsessed with laser foci.
Sorry for my tardiness. I had to give my weird headache a rest. I think it wanted some Scotch, but I eschewed a communion with Sir John Walker Black of Kilmarnock* in favor of nap time and some Ibuprofen.
Today’s edition of, um, Laser Focus deals with the tragicomic tales of our former heroes who ditched Penn State for greener pastures in the wake of the NCAA sanctions, which allowed them to do so with impunity. Please, no tears.
*Thanks to reader Joe for the inspiration to anthropomorphize the Turkey’s preferred libation, which is unfortunately not Wild Turkey.
Silas Redd is first on our list. Now with USC, he’ll be sprinting out the same tunnel where O. J. and Reggie Bush once did the same while earning the Heisman Trophies that they later lost. He’ll be taking hand-offs from vaunted quarterback Matt Barkley.
Like Penn State, which has carried the moniker “Linebacker U.” for a long, long time, USC is known as “Running Back U.” The Trojans have had quite a succession of well lubricated, latex tailbacks, and a veritable plethora of Heisman winners, to wit:
- Mike Garrett, 1965
- O.J., 1968
- Charles White, 1979
- Marcus Allen, 1981
- Carson Palmer (well, he was a QB), 2002
- Matt Leinart (same disclaimer), 2004
Reggie Bush, 2005
If Silas wants to be a star, this is a great place for him to achieve his dreams.
Redd is listed as co-starting tailback for the Trojans, along with bowling ball Curtis McNeal.
The USC depth chart lists many players’ Twitter names, but Silas, for reasons obvious to vindictive Penn Staters (yes, they do still exist) and those who know them, has none listed.
Read a New York Times article about Silas and Lane Kiffin’s pursuit of the former Penn State star.
A sad tale is that of Anthony Fera, who thought he could go home to Texas to be close to a sick relative while playing with the Longhorns, but somehow, he managed to get injured. Initially described as a groin strain, now head coach Mack Brown calls it a “sore hip flexor”, and it has the potential to ground his kicking game for some time. However, at least he’ll be close to his sick relative while Penn State struggles to replace the talented punter/kicker.
The Nittany Lions’ best wide receiver, Justin Brown, was a serious casualty of the sanctions, transferring to Oklahoma University. The college town of Norman, Oklahoma is absolutely tickled pink thrilled with the acquisition. The Sooner Schooner Boomer Mooner Pooner will take to the air this year with lots of three wide receiver sets and the talented Landry Jones at QB. Jones holds some 13 passing records at OU and he tied for the best good ol’ boy name on the team with his backup, Blake Bell. To have a strong-armed, record-setting quarterback throwing balls his way should be a treat for Brown, who is expected to be one of the three starting wide receivers for the Pooners.
Did Rob Bolden finally find some playing time for himself? The disappointing Bolden transferred to last year’s Still Somewhat Mythical National Championship (SSMNC) runner-up, LSU. The Tigers are expected to be strong again this year, voted number three nationally in the AP pre-season poll. Bolden will be a backup for junior Zach Mettenberger, with the other three quarterbacks on the roster being relatively inexperienced freshmen. The only mention of Bolden I could find on the LSU website was that in the final scrimmage before the season opener, “Miles complimented the play of the No. 1 defense, which faced the No. 2 offense directed by [freshman quarterback Stephen] Rivers and Rob Bolden.” I suppose Rivers and Bolden are fighting it out for second and third string positions. Those of us who have observed Bolden for a couple of years know that he’ll have a rough time gaining any traction.
The Nittany Lions lost some depth at linebacker when Khairi Fortt transferred to UC Berkeley. You might recall that Fortt had surgery to repair his knee during the spring. His playing status with the Golden Bears is presently uncertain. He is not listed on the two-deep depth chart for the season opening game with Nevada. I suppose that if he can’t be cleared to play at Cal, he wouldn’t be cleared to play at PSU, either, so his loss would have kept him off the field for several games if he had stayed. We hope that he has the Forttitude to hang in there at Cal. (Go ahead and groan, but I must amuse myself, you know.)
Kevin Haplea transferred to FSU shortly after the Penn State sanctions were announced. FSU had recruited Haplea coming out of high school along with Penn State, and now gets a second chance to play the blocking tight end. While Haplea’s departure means one fewer experienced tight end for the Nittany Lions, coach Bill O’Brien has loaded up at the position(s) and seems to have things under control. Haplea is currently listed behind sophomore Nick O’Leary at tight end for the Seminole Spear Planters.
Oh, man, Ryan Nowicki. What the hell can I say here that will do that situation justice? When Illinois did the vulture routine, with their flock of coaches swooping into State College anxious to pick up the scraps after the NCAA all but killed the Penn State football program, redshirt freshman Nowicki was the meaty chunk of Nittany Lion carrion the vultures scored. Just wait until the Illinois game, man! I think Bill O’Brien should step aside for that game and let Sean Payton
coach it oops, assign hit contracts — on the coaches. I’m not too vindictive, am I?
Nowicki is listed third on the depth chart at right tackle behind sophomore Michael Heitz and redshirt freshman Patrick Flavin. At 290 lbs, Nowicki was a little small compared to O’Brien’s offensive line, which averages 306. Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini need to change their name to the Poaching Illini.
Soooooo, that’s it for the initial issue of Laser Focus. We’re looking forward with a laser focus to an interesting and entertaining season!